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Sultan calls for extension of armed forces retirement age

ABUJA—Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Mohammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, has called on federal government to review the years of service of officers and men of the Nigerian Armed forces in the interest of the nation.

Abubakar said this in Abuja, yesterday, during a dinner to mark the Re-Union of Nigerian Defence Academy Alumni, 18 Regular Course held at Army Headquarters Command Officers Mess, Asokoro, Abuja.

Speaking on the importance of experience in military operations,  Abubakar said: ‘‘When it comes to retirement age of officers in the armed forces, we are not doing the right thing because we need to tap more from their wealth of experience, having spent so much on them. ‘‘When they get to 55 to 60 they are gone. We have gone round the world, seen generals in their 60s, 65 with grey hairs. Even with our grey hairs, we are not too old to serve Nigeria.

‘‘It is important we mobile other people to start talking to government to allow our generals to reach at least 65 years  before they leave service, because government invests so much resources to train them without replacement. Let’s expand, Nigeria is so big to lose these experiences.  It is important we look at this.’’

The Sultan who thumped up for the military said Nigerians must learn to appreciate the military for their sacrifice and efforts to keep the country united and maintain peace across the country, especially in the North East, South South and South East.

For him, the  military had done so much that they deserve accolades rather than condemnation as is being done in some quarters.

‘‘We must celebrate  our military and praise them  for its role in keeping peace in the North East, South Eater and South South Regions of the country. We must continue to praise and thank armed forces for  what they are doing for our country because without them we wouldn’t  have been where we are.

‘‘I think it is important that we continue to celebrate our military because they have done a lot for this country and we are very proud of them. But they still have a lot to do, they shouldn’t just relax because the job is not yet over, we are just starting.

‘‘The Commander in Chief also deserve this commendation for ensuring steadfastness  of the military, whether in the N/E, S/E, S/S, S/W of this country.

‘‘One thing we should know is that, once, there is any emergency, the military is free to go there and keep peace.  They do not need order from the Commander in Chief  and that is what we have been  doing for the past 42 year. Nothing has changed. We must know that when we go back, people should be told that the military is there for them. You can’t even worship God if there is no peace,’’ he added.

On religious practice, Abubakar stressed the need for mutual coexistence and called on Nigerians to always preach peace everywhere they are irrespective of their religion or ethnicity.

‘‘We shouldn’t allow religion, ethnicity to detect our actions. It is important we continue to preach peace and unity. If God had wanted, he would have broken us. But in his wisdom he created us to be together and to understand one another.

‘‘Those who carry out suicide attacks, who take innocent lives will go to hale.  You can’t go on suicide and say you are fighting for God. God is not a weak God. You don’t fight for God but for yourself.

‘‘Let us extend this message of hope that all is not lost, there is hope. Nigeria is a great country. It is important we  correct our mistakes. So many things had gone wrong in this country. It  is left for us to find where we  derailed and sort things out.’’

On the re-union, the Sultan described the gathering a threshold in the history of our country.

He said the re-union was very important  because it would help in cementing the bond of love and unity that Nigeria so much desire in the face of this present challenges.

‘‘We have heard so much unnecessary noise all over the places as regards to the unity of the country. Whoever is in doubt, let him come and see a family that has been together for 42 years.

‘‘I think it is important that when we do things, we don’t look at religion, ethnicity, we look at competence. God who made us did not look at all these, while we were in the womb of our mothers, whether we are Muslims or Christians or from any tribe.’’

The sultan, who went spiritual, said, ‘‘It is important that wherever we meet, we continue to remind ourselves that God who created us is watching us.  So, whatever, we do, we must do it with fear of God, bearing in mind that God is watching us.

‘‘If we change the perception of our lives in our country, things will be much better. Clean people can go into politics and take away the bad eggs.    At the right time, we shall find how to make an en-rout into changing the institutions, our communities and our country.’’

Corroborating the position of the Sultan,  the guest lecturer and a former Chief of Defence Staff and Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Martin Agwai ( rtd), said the greatest resources of Nigeria is human beings and so for the country to derive full benefits of its military, it has to


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